Survey: Regulatory Uncertainty Remains a Top Concern For Small Businesses

Jan 11, 2013

Small business uncertainty abounds, according to the U.S. Chamber’s quarterly small business survey conducted online by Harris Interactive.

Concerns about the economy, the debt and deficit, and the health care bill are cited as top challenges. More than half (53%) of all small businesses did not hire in the past year, and 64% plan to keep the same number of employees in 2013.

Key findings from the survey include the following:

Small Business Climate Remains Bleak

  • 82% of small businesses continue to think that the U.S. economy is on the wrong track.
  • 54% expect the small business climate to worsen in the next two years.

Regulatory Uncertainty Impacts Hiring

  • 86% of small businesses believe that regulations, rules, and taxes will negatively impact their ability to operate. Health care regulations cause the most concern, followed by labor rules and environmental laws.
  • 75% of small businesses expect that the Affordable Care Act will increase costs for their businesses; 5% expect that the law will make health care coverage more affordable; and 71% think that implementation of the health care law will make it harder to hire more employees.

Small Businesses Look for Solutions to Fiscal Challenges

  • 88% of small businesses support addressing entitlement spending to resolve America’s growing financial challenges and escalating debt.
  • 62% of small businesses see the current debt and deficit as a threat to the success of their businesses.
  • 92% of small businesses feel that a comprehensive approach to energy exploration and increased revenue from production is important in addressing fiscal challenges.

The survey release coincided with the U.S. Chamber’s annual State of American Business event on January 10. During his speech, Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue cited the exploding national debt as the single biggest threat to the nation’s economic future. He also unveiled the Chamber’s 2013 American Jobs and Growth Agenda, which includes reducing deficits and debt by tackling runaway spending and reforming entitlements and the tax code.

Echoing the survey results, Donohue warned about the coming flood of new regulations that will discourage job creation and damage small businesses’ competitive edge in the global economy.

“All told, the federal government issues about 4,000 regulations every year. It would be hard to convince any reasonable person that all of that is really necessary,” Donohue said.

He vowed to “significantly expand the expertise in our law firm, the National Chamber Litigation Center, and in other areas of our institution, in order to deal with regulations,” and take the necessary legal action, “when rights have been trampled on, or regulators have overstepped their bounds.”

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